Eight Natural Steps to Putting out the Fire
of Acid Reflux and Heart Burn
By Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH
What causes Acid Reflux & Heart Burn?
reflux and heart burn symptoms trouble an alarming number of Americans today and
are the most common symptoms of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). It has
been assumed (incorrectly) that acid reflux and heart burn are caused by an
over-production of acids in the stomach. One of the most common reasons that
heart burn and acid reflux occurs is that the LES (lower esophageal sphincter
valve that keeps stomach acids in the stomach) weakens and allows stomach acids
to back-wash up into the esophagus and throat areas. Over time, this stomach
acid backwash can be dangerous if left untreated because the stomach acids can
destroy the delicate mucous lining of the esophagus and throat, which can lead
to cancer and other serious health issues.
The following information is not meant to replace medical care
with your doctor or health care provider. It is intended to enhance or improve
your health care treatment program. While under my doctor’s care, I was able to
incorporate the following suggestions to improve my acid reflux and heart burn
symptoms and address the cause of these symptoms naturally. I do suggest seeing
your doctor and taking care of any type of health related symptoms when they
first appear because it is easier to relieve and improve symptoms and to address
the cause of health problems when they first manifest, rather than waiting until
they evolve into a chronic condition.
What about Acid- Blocker or Antacids?
need to mention that taking acid blockers (both over-the-counter and
prescription) only treats the symptom, but does not address the underlying
cause. Since acid reflux and heart burn are not generally caused by an
over-production of acids in the stomach, taking acid blockers prevents or
impairs the stomach acids (HCL) from breaking down the food properly. These
acids in the stomach protect us from certain bad bacteria in meats and other
foods ingested. If there are insufficient acids in the stomach, then this
protection is compromised, which can leave us vulnerable to bacterial invasion
and food poisoning.
Due to a lack of stomach acids from acid blockers, the stomach
may not be able to break down foods properly. It can then become more difficult
for the small intestine to assimilate nutrients and can lead to a condition
called mal-absorption, where one loses the ability to absorb nutrients
correctly. Regarding antacids, the aluminum in antacids is difficult for the
body to absorb. It accumulates in the intestines, where it can cause dryness and
constipation. In various studies, aluminum has been implicated with Alzheimer’s
disease and may also contribute to osteoporosis. So long term use of antacids
and acid blockers can lead to other G.I. (gastro intestinal) and general health
Alternatively, I suggest that it is better to focus on taking
care of the cause of the symptoms, which is most often due to the weakening of
the LES (lower esophageal sphincter valve) and improper diet and lifestyle
patterns. The following suggestions address the triggers that allow the LES to
weaken or open inappropriately and also address the healing of the stomach
lining and delicate esophageal and throat tissues. Also included are several
tips for improving your digestion and your overall quality of life.
1. Putting out the Fire
For immediate relief from the burning pain of heart burn or
acid reflux, I recommend using pure
Whey powder by Mt. Capra. A couple of tablespoons of powder mixed in a large
glass of water can bring immediate relief. It is naturally alkalizing to the
body and contains naturally occurring electrolyte minerals that nourish and
encourage pH balance in
bodies. There are other natural alkalizing formulas that are very effective as
Defense by Garden of Life. The primary ingredient in this formula is the
Mineral Goat Whey, plus dried vegetable juices that enhance the alkalizing
effect of the whey. It is suggested to use the Mineral Goat Whey or Acid Defense
3 to 4 times a day and also when flare ups of acid reflux and heartburn symptoms
2. Soothing and Healing the Irritated Tissues
Nature has provided several amazing herbs that help to coat and soothe mucus
membranes and reduce inflammation, so they have a chance to heal. I found the
following herbs very helpful: Marshmallow Root, Slippery Elm and Plantain. Most
health food stores carry herbal cap formulas of these herbs and include
suggested usage on the bottle.
I have also learned that the use of DGL (deglycyrrhizinated
licorice) before meals can soothe and heal the esophageal tissue. It is
recommended to use this form of licorice because it is safe to use for people
with high blood pressure. The standard recommended serving is between 350 mg to
1,000 mg, three times per day. It is usually available in a chewable tablet
form, taken before meals.
3. Diet & Eating Patterns
are several foods that can trigger acid reflux and heart burn by triggering the
LES to open or relax. The most common food triggers include: alcoholic
beverages, sparkling or carbonated beverages, caffeine, citrus fruits & juices,
chocolate, fried foods, fatty foods, pepper, peppermint, tomato products
(including pasta sauce) and for certain people certain spices including garlic,
onion or spicy seasonings. It is best to avoid these foods as much as possible
during the healing process.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day is helpful because
bigger meals tend to put more pressure on the stomach and LES, which in turn can
cause the LES to relax and acids to back up into the esophagus.
Eating meals slower and chewing more thoroughly can aid in
digestion and prevent over eating. Eating in a hurry or while upset can affect
digestion as well.
Proper food combining can also be helpful. If your symptoms
are severe, it could be helpful for awhile to eat just one type of food at a
time to improve digestion and reduce gas and bloating in the stomach, i.e. just
eating the protein by itself, then the salad at your next meal and then the
grains or starches at the next meal.
4. Digestion Support
enzymes taken before or with meals can improve digestion and reduce gas and
bloating after meals. I found the
OmegaZyme Ultra by Garden of Life or
Mt. Capra to be very helpful with my digestion. Also, I suggest not drinking
liquids with meals and up to one half hour before a meal, and not until an hour
after a meal because liquids can interfere with the digestive process.
Another way to improve digestion is to use a tincture form of
bitter herbs like chamomile, dandelion root or barberry or raw, apple cider
vinegar mixed in a little water before meals.
You can also check with your doctor or health care
professional to see if you are deficient in HCL (hydrochloric acid). HCL assists
with food digestion and supports the function of the LES. If your body is not
making enough of its own, then supplementation can be beneficial. As stated
earlier, it is a misnomer that acid reflux and heart burn are caused by too much
stomach acids. The lack of HCL can cause not only digestion problems but can
weaken the tone of the LES, resulting in heart burn or acid reflux.
5. General Mechanics
Wearing loose fitting clothing around the waist can prevent
unwanted pressure on the stomach area and the LES and improve the digestion
discovered that by raising the head of my bed six to eight inches reduced my
occurrence of acid reflux at night. By keeping the head higher than the stomach,
gravity helps to prevent acid reflux during sleeping. The best way to accomplish
this is to put bricks under the top two legs of the bed or you can use boards or
phone books. I have heard of people using wedges or adjustable beds, but it can
put more pressure on the abdomen, because the body is bent at the abdomen level.
Avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal to prevent acid
reflux, which also means do not eat several hours before going to bed.
6. Quit Smoking
can over stimulate the production of stomach acids and can also relax and weaken
the LES. Smoking can also inhibit the production of saliva --saliva neutralizes
refluxed acids and protects against damage to the esophagus. Saliva is the first
step in the digestion process.
7. Loose Weight
Excess body weight increases the abdominal pressure, which can
then push the contents of the stomach up into the esophagus. By loosing
abdominal weight, the pressure on the LES and stomach decreases, this in turn
can reduce the occurrence of acid back wash.
8. De-Stress Your Life
Stress is a contributing factor with heart burn and acid
reflux. Observe your breathing when you are stressed. Most likely it is shallow,
coming from the upper chest. This is because deep breathing is almost impossible
when you are stressed. By taking deep, abdominal breaths, you will alkalize your
body and release stressful emotions.
Meditation and yoga are great ways to turn off the mind and
simply “be.” By doing this, you are able to reconnect with your intuitive self
and release the outer world for awhile. Both of these practices help to sharpen
body awareness too, so you are more aware of when you are holding stress and
where you might be holding it in your body.
these natural and healthy guidelines can greatly improve or eliminate symptoms
of heart burn and acid reflux. For more information on digestive health, I
recommend reading the book
“Restoring Your Digestive Health” by Jordan S. Rubin, N.M.D. and Joseph Brasco,
M.D. It is a comprehensive health guide that combines the wisdom of both
traditional and alternative treatment methods for a variety of gastrointestinal
health issues. You can also visit our website at
more digestive health information, books and products. To your health!
Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH is a Clinical Nutritionist,
Herbalist, Author, President and Founder of Christine's Cleanse Corner,
Inc., that specializes in nutritional & health education. Christine is also
a health and nutrition educational speaker and instructor, nutritional, diet
and cleanse consultant and the editor of the free, online Transform Your
Health Nutrition and Health newsletter. For more information, visit Christine on
the web at:
http://www.TransformYourHealth.com or call our customer service support
staff at 760-294-5275.
Also Read the Article
Heartburn Med’s Effects
by Extra-Ordinary Health Writers
Healthier Options for Relieving
Heartburn and Acid Reflux
by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH
Note: The content provided in this article is intended for
informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the
place of professional medical advice. You are encouraged to consult with your
medical health care provider regarding any health concern or health-related
condition you may have.
The statements contained in this article have not been
evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained here is
not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and
ideas presented in this document are for information only and should not be
interpreted as medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive
purposes. The information in this article is not to be used to replace the
services or instructions of a physician or qualified health care practitioner.